Daughters of Sparta
June 13, 2021

Book Review

Daughters of Sparta

Klytemnestra and Helen are daughters of Lord Tyndareos, King of Sparta. Klytemnestra as the oldest daughter is the heiress, and so is supposed to be the Queen of Sparta and stay with her family. But her father betroths her to Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, which means she needs to live in his kingdom.

All this results in a feeling of betrayal, and fear she will likely never see her family again, since a married women does not travel and is the steward of her husband’s household.

Helen, legendary for her beauty, gets betrothed to Menelaos, Agamemnon’s brother. As much as she appreciates her husband’s gentleness, she is frustrated with him not expressing his feelings. Without much conversation between them, she hardly knows her husband, but now that she’s pregnant, he shows a lot of tenderness and she hopes it’s a new beginning for them.

When Menelaos welcomes friendship between two kingdoms—his and the one of Troy—it changes everything. Helen is enchanted by the handsome Prince Paris of Troy. His flattery makes her alive again, and she finds herself liking the attention. Meanwhile, Menelaos is forced to leave his kingdom and leave Helen to entertain the guests. Upon returning home from his grandfather’s funeral, he finds his palace ransacked and his wife gone. He just doesn’t know if she went willingly or forcefully. Now, all Greece unites in an effort to fight the rich and powerful Troy.

As the story alternates between two sisters, we get to know their thoughts and feelings well. This story is wonderful in exploring those aspects, giving voice to women who didn’t have any choice in decision making. Readers can certainly feel their frustration, disappointment, and joy. It touches you when Helen’s eyes are opened to the fate of the female slaves as she was too naïve to see what was going around her. Both women defy their husbands in their own way in secret. One dreams of more than just spinning wool, she dreams of weaving words, something meant for men only.

This is a straightforward and enjoyable read. As this is character-driven, you do not have a plot filled with details of Greek mythology. The ending is touching; in a sense a war had to be fought in order for two people to open up to each other. It brings a human touch to this legendary mythology.

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